Thursday, June 07, 2012

What time is it?

I was at the kindergarten yesterday.

In the five year old class there is one boy, T-kun, who has some social challenges but is actually an extremely bright boy. He sometimes gets focused on something else and isn't happy about coming to English time and on those days he will sit in the corner sobbing silently but usually he enjoys English and waves his hand, blurting out answers and wanting to do it all. While many of the 5 year olds sort of sit and absorb by chance whatever English I am trying to teach, T-kun most often plays an active, noisy role in my class.

This month I've been teaching numbers.

"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.
Eight, nine, ten, eleven... twelve!"

Okay, if they can count to twelve, I can bring out the wooden clock and see how far they can get with time. I realize that many of these 5 year olds can't even tell time in Japanese let alone attempt a stab at English, but since they learned to count to twelve...

"The little hand is on ONE. And the big hand is on TWELVE. It's ONE O'CLOCK. See, when the hand is on TWELVE we say O'CLOCK. That's the easy part. But you've got to remember what number the little hand is pointing at."

"This is ONE O'CLOCK. And with the little hand pointing at two, it is TWO O'CLOCK. What time is it if the little hand is pointing at THREE?"

I had a whole bunch of children waving their hands at me wanting to give the answer. Same with 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00. But by 7:00, the hands started to thin. Not that many kids can count post 6. T-kun sat counting on his fingers, then frantically waving his hand. Ah, T-kun can probably answer the 12:00. I let him wave and called on other children. 8:00, 9:00, even the little autistic boy knows 10. He could answer 10:00 with help. 11:00. That's a hard one. T-kun was still waving his hand but I called on another waving child. Finally 12:00...

"T-kun. What time is it now? The little hand and the big hand are pointing at TWELVE."

And T-kun confidently answered,


It's what? The kindergarten teacher and I looked at each other puzzled.

"It's... OHHHhhh!!!"

T-kun was really thinking very logically. I DID say that when the hand is pointing at TWELVE we say O'CLOCK, so O'CLOCK O'CLOCK is a wonderful answer! I sure praised him for his thinking skills and of course taught him that in this case the time was TWELVE O'CLOCK.

I love seeing the world through children's eyes.

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